Friday, February 10, 2012

Cough. Cough. Gag. Hack.

Song for this post: "Heart Shaped Box" ~ Nirvana

I don't normally voice such strong opinions. I'll just put that out there right now. But I'm standing by it.

This morning I was waiting at my bus stop when it occurred to me I was having a hard time breathing. I looked around and, on every side of me, someone was smoking.

I used to be a smoker. For the life of me I can't figure out why. But, I was one. And I'm not now. In fact, I'm SO not that it baffles me why I ever did to begin with. I genuinely HATE everything about it. I think it's disgusting. There are not adjectives to describe how awful I think it is and how much I wish I could take back all those years of damaging my body with cigarettes. And I think that gives me a broad understanding of what it's like to smoke, what it's like not to smoke, and how it effects those around you who don't share your habit.

I've always been one of those people who thought, "if it's in a public place, more power to you. Far be it for me to tell a smoker not to smoke on a sidewalk."  But you know what? It's not fair to me that I get to wait at my bus stop while 4 people pollute my lungs with their cancer-causing dirty habit. It's not fair that children walk by and are subjected to second hand smoke. Why do we tolerate something that SO CLEARLY has very serious health risks both to the smoker and to those around him?

2 years ago I was fortunate enough to see the Bodies Exhibition. It was more than 200 actual human specimens that had been preserved and it was amazing. I got to see an entire circulatory system, the human reproduction process (changed my views on abortion, that's for sure) and I got to hold a human brain. I also got to see a healthy lung next to a smoker's lung. You can't come back from that.  Seeing a photo is one thing. Seeing an ACTUAL smoker's lung, in person, is ENTIRELY another. That's what did it for me. The fact that I was sucking poison into my charred, black, enlarged, struggling-to-survive lungs that I'd made that way by my own actions disturbed me. Nothing says "wake up call" like the Bodies Exhibition. It made me love myself and my body on a whole new level.

Listen, I don't usually rock the boat. I'm the kind of girl who dislikes conflict and volatility so I just let my friends smoke around me because I don't want to be rude. But you know what's exponentially more rude and inconsiderate? Smoking around me. Polluting my body with your carcinogens. Not at least having the courtesy to ask if I mind if you potentially give me cancer. Less selfishly, it's tragic having to watch the people around me kill themselves and do it so cavalierly. It breaks my heart.

There should be laws about this and I mean that. We have silly laws preventing me from showing my boobs in public or driving without windshield wipers but we don't have laws against you polluting those around you and spreading dangerous toxins to anyone in proximity? That doesn't make sense to me.

I can't dictate what you do. Smoke it up, by all means. Far be it for me to stop you. Just don't do it around me. I like my lungs.

Actual smoker's lung next to a healthy lung.

Point of interest: In the exhibition, next to the smoker's lung and the healthy lung was a 4 foot tall glass bin for people to throw away their packs of cigarettes. The staff had to empty it daily because it would get too full. This makes me proud of all those people who quit.

1 comment:

  1. As a smoker myself, I apologize for the inconsiderate nature of those douchbags. I smoke in public as well, but when I'm waiting for the bus, for example, I step away from anyone not smoking. It's just common courtesy.